One of the most talked-about features concerning the aftermath of biochemical and neurochemical warfare, other than the cheap price of cookware and other luxury comestibles, is the possibility of a zombie invasion. Many of us are sure to be turned into these half-dead creatures that feature so frequently in quality movies and also seem to crop up with alarming regularity when you wander through a certain disused shopping mall in Reading.
Of course, the hilarious way that the heroes of Shaun of the Dead try to fight off some very bitey zombies by throwing some well-chosen vinyl at them (not Purple Rain, obvs) is never going to be an adequate response. So what would your government do if there were to be a real Zombie Apocalypse, and how likely is it to actually happen?
The bad news is if you believe the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (and we do), then LQP-79 is your worst nightmare come true. Mild symptoms of people infected by this virus include high fever and vomiting together with chest pains, raised blood pressure and an increased heart rate. But if you are unfortunate enough to develop severe symptoms, then you will be subject to increasing bouts of psychotic behaviour and extreme aggression. In other words, you basically become zombie filth.
Once you have been infected with LQP-79, you would have to be isolated from the rest of humanity until a cure can be found or you would have to be destroyed in order to stem the flow of this deadly zombie virus. If there’s any good news for people infected, it appears not all victims show a liking for the taste of human flesh.
Apparently a real-life zombie might not actually look like your typically scabby, shuffly, gore-festooned monster of of popular image, and the early stages of infection will attack the brain first—meaning that it could be difficult to tell who is already on their way to being a flesh-eater and who is simply a Slayer fan.
Some people think that the LQP-79 story could be an elaborate hoax, while others are convinced that this is a very real possibility and we should start nailing crooked bits of wood over our windows immediately. According to research carried out through the Stanley Medical Research Institute, it might already be too late to stave off a zombie invasion, as half of the world’s population is already infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that can turn victims into mindless zombie-like creatures. You are probably thinking that sounds a bit like that bloke at your work with all those Smurfs on his desk, so best not upset them in case the apocalypse sends them over the edge.
If you are one of those life-on-the-edge, garage full of crampon types, then you might be tempted to take a chance on the potentially deadly Japanese blowfish or puffer fish. The neurotoxins found in this marine-based killer poisons your body until your functions are so slow, people will probably think you are dead or at least a regular watcher of Channel 5’s Eddie Stobart Truck Show. Though the zombification can be reversed by using powerful drugs that leave you in a trance-like state with no memory. Just like that time I drank that lava lamp.
So you’ve heard the compelling evidence and are now convinced that zombies will be scuttling down your Cul-De-Sac as regularly as the Avon lady. So what can you do? One thing is to visit a supreme Disaster Preparedness and all-around fun place such as Zombie Scholars Academy and learn some handy survival advice. Otherwise, here are a few practical tips…
As Bertrand Russell (possibly the former lead singer with Suede) once said, “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” Well, okay, that profound line from Shaun of the Dead was actually stolen from a beer mat, but you get the drift. The survivors of a Zombie Apocalypse will need to be one-step ahead and stick together (not literally, that will just hinder you) if the world is to avoid falling under control of an ever-growing army of zombies.
So how do you prepare for the day of reckoning?
You need to get yourself organised with an emergency kit that will see you through the first few days of the aftermath of the apocalypse. In fact, even if you can’t see a zombie invasion happening any time soon you could still be prepared for any natural disaster (fracking related earthquakes for instance) by stocking up on the following essential items.
You won’t know if the drinking water has been infected, and you certainly don’t want to take any chances, so stock up on bottled water so that you have about a gallon per day per person in store and enough for at least three days. These days there are flavoured varieties that are usually quite disgusting.
Another obvious one really, food and water are pretty essential to survival, and you will soon regret not having emergency grub when you are cut off from fresh supplies. Stock up on non-perishable items (like biscuits, non-perishable ones), and aim to have enough to keep you in hiding for at least 2-3 days without having to brave going outside and facing the unknown.
If you have been bitten or infected already then it will be too late for any medication to save you from a zombie-like existence, but on the assumption that you have kept out of danger, have a supply of regular medicines including prescription as well as non-prescription items. Having some bandages and basic first-aid supplies will be also useful for dealing with any basic cuts or if you want to dress up as a Mummy to entertain your fellow survivors. Just break into a Boots, I can’t imagine anyone would care if there’s zombies all over the place.
Tools and Accessories
The sort of tools and accessories you should collect for your emergency kit are a utility knife (your perfect excuse to buy a Swiss-Army one), some duct tape (might come in useful for binding up zombie assailants), and a battery powered radio so you can hear just how terrible the world is now, or else enjoy the smooth sounds of Jazz FM.
Sanitation and hygiene supplies would be a good idea as well. Get some cleaning products like bleach and personal items like soap and towels so you can hopefully steer clear of any infections and avoid leaving a scent for zombies (or bears) to follow, which could happen if you have to skip more than a few showers. Plus, you may end up as President of this new ravaged land, so you’ll want to look nice for that.
Clothes and Bedding
A change of clothes packed away in your emergency kit would be advisable, especially if you have a close encounter with an infected person and don’t like the look of that bloodstain on your sleeve. Bedding is an obvious one as you want to stay warm and as comfortable as possible, and the central heating is hardly likely to be working.
Make some copies of your driving licence, passport, and even your birth certificate too, as you might have to prove your identity to gain access to ‘the safe zone’. It would also prove that you are still in the land of the living since zombies tend to forget such documents.
Having got your emergency kit sorted, you then need to make an emergency plan so that everyone in your family knows what to do when disaster strikes.
Agree on a Meeting Point
Make sure that everyone knows where to meet up if the zombie invasion happens and you need to run for cover. Although the primary meeting point should probably be deep within your house, you may need to regroup outside of your home if the zombies decide to pay a visit, so a good plan would be to pick a meeting point directly outside for sudden emergencies and a perceived safe meeting point somewhere in your neighbourhood that everyone has a fair chance of getting to. Try to pick a spot that doesn’t have zombies all over it. And forget about stragglers, if they are not at the designated meeting point, forget about them, they’re zombie chum now.
Having a list of local police and emergency services numbers might be fairly academic in the circumstances, but if you have advance warning of a pending zombie invasion coming your way from another area, then by all means take a note of the zombie response team (or ZRT) in case they are in a position to help. Or try Childline, they might have some advice.
Having survived the first few days of a zombie apocalypse thanks to your emergency kit and plans, you then need to consider having an evacuation plan. You need to organise your evacuation route in advance, using your local knowledge to map out a route that some brain-dead zombies might not think about following. To survive the zombies, you have to think like a zombie and then not act like a zombie (unless you are hiding amongst a group of zombies, in which case, act like a zombie).
Help is on the Way
If we do get into a situation where zombies are roaming our streets like shuffling, brain-dead chuggers, then presumably government forces will combine with a military presence to clean up the mess and find a way to eradicate the infection or stop it from spreading any further (depending on who is in power, the Lib Dems might not bother).
The first thing that the UK government would probably do is convene an emergency meeting in the Cabinet Office briefing rooms, which is commonly referred to as COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A). There they will find and implement the best plan for rescuing survivors and stemming the tide of zombie conversion.
If you are worried about how the government would cope with a pandemic scenario and would like to know what plans they have made in advance, then you can avail yourself of some light reading material produced by COBRA and the Department of Health. The 141-page booklet we found outlines how they intend to tackle pandemic flu. It might not actually mention the zed-word, but the principle remains the same. Amongst the topics are ethical considerations, operational response arrangements, key planning assumptions, the critical need for pre-planning and isolation, voluntary quarantine, and social distancing, which all sounds very similar to what would be needed to tackle a zombie outbreak. It is so grim, we imagine that Jim Davidson would play the lead in the film version.
Rather worryingly, the report also tackles the prospect of second and subsequent waves and national arrangements for early detection and alert. Reassuringly, it does also talk about the recovery phase and returning to normality. Before you know it, the zombies will be gone and EastEnders will be back on the air. Hurrah!
So don’t panic, even though you may have had to slaughter and eat close relatives and former schoolmates, your government, plus a bit of forward planning, will help you survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse. And presumably it will be much easier to find parking spaces afterwards, so that will be nice.
And of course, by indulging in one of our many Zombie Experiences, you will have a leg up on your rival survivors.